Monday, 4 March 2013

The Age as a tabloid

I asked the newsagent as I was buying my (broadsheet) newspaper whether he was selling more copies of the Age now that it had gone tabloid - oops, sorry, "compact".   Somewhat to my surprise, he told me that, although it was only early on the first morning, yes, he had sold a few more.   Why this might be so eludes me, but apparently this is consistent with the research as cited by Jonathon Green.

Jonathon Green says that the research looked at everything from the average arm-reach of female readers to commuting habits of non-newspaper consuming youth. Well, maybe.....  However, I still find it hard to believe that there are potential buyers of newspapers out there who make their decision based on the format.   It's a bit like choosing a meal in a restaurant according to the colour of the plate on which it is served.

The last weekday broadsheet issue
But even if there's a potential for an increase in sales,  I can't help but think the real reason for the change may well have been tucked away in Bruce Guthrie's piece.   He says that it's about cost cutting:   " changing formats Fairfax can print the Melbourne and Sydney papers at regional printing plants, allowing it to scrap expensive Melbourne and Sydney facilities and save tens of millions of dollars each year...".   Now this really does seem to have a ring of credibility about it!

Green's comments about the broadsheet being traditionally linked to "quality journalism" are interesting, although he points out that the real reason for the broadsheet format was that it was needed for newspapers that carried large volumes of classified advertising - no longer an issue for the weekday editions of the Age.

My personal take is that it's been a pity that the reverse hasn't applied:   maintaining the Age as a broadsheet until now does not seem to have preserved the quality of the journalism as cost cutting has taken its toll.

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